There are many ways in which we can reduce the risk of tooth decay in children—good oral hygiene habits, fluoride, and regular dental visits all top the list. One preventive treatment you may not have thought of is dental sealants. According to the CDC, dental sealants prevent 80 percent of cavities for two years after initial application and 50 percent of cavities for up to four years.
How Dental Sealants Work
If you run your tongue over the chewing surfaces of your molars, you’ll feel small pits and grooves. Some people have more of these grooves in their teeth than others. If your child has a lot of these fissures, it puts them at higher risk of tooth decay because food debris, bacteria, plaque, and tartar can all accumulate in these areas.
Dental sealants work by filling in pits and fissures to prevent plaque from collecting and create a smooth surface. Sealants are safe, effective, and affordable, so they’re truly one of the best tools we have for preventing cavities.
Sealants are a BPA-free coating that is painted directly onto the chewing surfaces of the teeth. The procedure is fast and pain-free. Because of their simplicity and efficacy, dental insurance often covers the cost of sealants.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Sealants
Are dental sealants worth it?
Absolutely. Dental sealants are one of the most cost-effective pediatric dental treatments available. The cost of dental sealants is far less than the cost of dental fillings, and the process of getting dental sealants is much more comfortable than getting cavities treated.
How long do sealants last on your teeth?
Sealants can last up to 10 years, but they chip and wear away with time. During your child’s routine dental exams, we’ll check to make sure their sealants are intact and we can apply touch ups as needed to keep their teeth protected from decay.
At what age are dental sealants most effective?
The American Dental Association recommends dental sealants for children between the ages of 5 and 14. Dental sealants are most often applied to permanent molars, but if primary (baby) molars are especially at risk, we may recommend applying sealant at a younger age.
Are sealants toxic?
No, sealants are not toxic. They’ve been in use for over 40 years and have proven to be a safe, effective treatment. Some older sealants have trace amounts of BPA in them, but we have only used BPA-free sealants at our practice.
Do sealants damage teeth?
No, just the opposite—sealants fortify the teeth and help reduce the risk against damage from decay.
What do sealants look like?
Sealants are clear, white, or slightly tinted to match the color of your child’s natural teeth. No matter what type of sealant is used, you can rest assured that the sealant will blend in with the rest of the tooth and won’t be noticeable when they smile.
If my child gets fluoride treatments, do they still need sealants?
For the best possible protection, it’s a good idea to have both fluoride treatments and sealants. Each protects the teeth, but in different ways. Sealants create a physical barrier to prevent decay from forming on the biting surface, while fluoride strengthens the structure of the teeth and primary works in between the teeth.